Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homemade Pet Food - Getting Started

What's the difference between paying a consultant (veterinary or otherwise) for a recipe to feed your dogs real food and learnin' it up yourself? The former leaves your wallet lighter while the latter makes your brain heavier.

Here's my view: If you are the type of owner who doesn't feel comfortable making decisions regarding the care of your pets and you can afford to pay for a professional consultation to tell you how to prepare food - go for it. It will give you the peace of mind you require and allow you to confidently pursue a healthy diet plan for your pets. Bear in mind that there are all sorts of people hanging shingles along the information superhighway offering to take your money in exchange for nutritional advice. If I was looking for a consultant, I wouldn't go to anyone who hasn't had advanced training in pet nutrition. For example, my regular Vet, whom I trust to perform surgery on my pets, doesn't claim to be a nutrition expert nor do I regard her as such.

In my experience, learning proper pet nutrition is a readily achievable task for pet owners. For those who are so inclined, books on pet nutrition are available at the library and there are many websites offering advice as well. The usual caveats apply - some info out there is worse than useless so you'll need to use your judgment. If you run into the same principles repeated by multiple trusted sources, you can probably rely on that info. Stuff I tend to dismiss: Your dog will die if you don't follow diet plan X, your dog will suffer ill health effects if you don't buy supplement Y, or any other extreme sounding/snake oil type warnings.

The answer to many of the main concerns about feeding home prepared pet food is variety. By feeding a variety of foods and recipes over time, you don't have to worry about feeding too much or too little of specific nutrients. You can also take advantage of buying seasonal foods available at lower prices.

The best gauge for how your feeding plan is going is the health of your pets. If they look good and seem to feel good, you are probably doing a fine job. At my house, I noticed a significant improvement in the overall health of the dogs after switching from a kibble based diet to one based on fresh food. Not that I thought they were "unhealthy" before, rather I just thought it was normal to be at the Vet's office regularly for ailments such as ear infections, skin problems, etc. Our current "normal" is to visit the Vet's office rarely and primarily for routine care. The only thing that has changed is how I feed.

All that said, research for yourself in order to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with regarding what to feed your pets. Don't take the recommendations of one person - even if they charge for their advice. Utilize multiple resources to gather info and see what might work for your pet's specific needs and your budget. Knowledge is power!

If anyone has a home prepared pet food recipe they like, please share in the comments. I never get tired of reading about how people feed their pets.

Related Reading:

Don't Forget the Calcium, Mom

Juliette de Bairacli Levy's Natural Rearing Diet for Dogs

AAFCO - The Pet Food Industry Fails to Regulate Itself


Liz and Dulce said...

I use this site for raw food recommendations:

Liz and Dulce said...


Kasha said...

Hmm. We feed Africa with Nutro puppy food as recommended per the breeder. I see their catfood is having problems. Do you think we should be concerned?
Kasha and Africa

Anonymous said...

When started to switch over I got Pitcairn's book on diet and Billinghurst's books on BARF.
They gave me what I needed both for a cooked diet for an Addisonian dog who couldn't tolerate raw and a (mostly) raw diet for the others.

I absolutely agree with you that variety is the key. Mine eat mostly what's cheap and available and they glow with health.

Today we served raw beef with rice, arugula, zucchini and yogurt. Tomorrow will feature the boiled down remains of tonight's roast chicken (no bones!) with oats, lettuce, boiled eggs and beets. The dogs love getting something different every day.

And yes, I *do* feed both raw and cooked food (and sometimes high end kibble). This tends to annoy faddists on all sides of the issue - YAY!

Anonymous said...


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YesBiscuit! said...

Kasha, You might like to visit Consumer Affairs website regarding Nutro complaints from customers. See what you think seems credible and consider that Nutro maintains they have received NO complaints.

YesBiscuit! said...

Janeen, I too feed both raw and cooked. I used to do all raw but now pretty much it's raw meaty bones and cooked meat w/out bones. All still living, shocking as that may be.

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